Hunter is proud to be an official partner of the BNY Mellon Boat Race. Now in its 160th year, the Boat Race is between crews from the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge, who will go head to head against each other in this iconic race this Sunday, April 6th, in London.
To celebrate our partnership with the Boat Race, we're taking you exclusively behind the scenes to find out exactly what it takes to be part of this prestigious sporting event.
With each team sporting a different shade of blue, the only question that remains is: WHICH BLUE ARE YOU?
Watch our exclusive interview with Malcolm Howard, the President of the Oxford University Boat Club squad, and one of the most decorated competitors in university rowing history.
Read more from our interview below. View the previous blog post featuring Team Cambridge here.
Malcolm Howard is one of the most decorated competitors in university rowing history. He has already won two Olympic medals (a gold and a silver), several world championships and has a perfect winning streak during his three years at Harvard. Hunter talks to him about success, leadership and going for the win.
You’re from Canada, why did you choose Oxford?
I’ve been fortunate to do most of the major races in the world, and I always knew that I wanted to one day do the boat race. Between Oxford and Cambridge it was the academic program at Oxford that I found most interesting - I’m doing a Masters in science – bi-research and clinical medicine.
How did you get into rowing?
Before I started rowing I was a cyclist. I did local racing, but it got to the point where I was too big to get up the hills. One day at school a teacher looked at how tall I was and said “you should be rowing”, and roped me into the school team. That was the start of it.
What does a typical training day look like for you?
If I could change one stereotype about rowing, it would be that we don’t all wake up at 4am. On a typical day I get up just before 6am, have a bit of breakfast, go down to the gym and we have a morning session that lasts just over an hour. At that point I go to the lab and I do lab work from 8:30-1:30. Then I have a nice big lunch, followed by practice - and that practice will be anything from an hour and a half to three hours. Then I get home, I have dinner with my wife and I relax before getting some more work done.
Could you explain what the boat race is and what happens on boat race day?
It’s a sporting event, between two universities who put their best rowers out on the tideway and everyone comes down to watch it. We have the varsity football match going on between Oxford and Cambridge as well that day, but you can even see the Boat Race really well from there, so it’s a big attraction for everyone, and from a rowers perspective it’s kind of amazing because there’s no other event that you can do that this many people will watch. You could win Olympic gold, and not as many people will watch that – from a rower’s perspective, that’s amazing.
Do you and your team have any Race Day rituals?
I’ve tried to break some of those traditions, for example the socks that I have to wear. Our tradition and our method is that we do our routine, even when we get stressed; our routine is something that we can lean on in those moments.
What does success look like to you and your team?
We are a goal driven boat club, and success is about winning; success is about winning the boat race and winning the reserve race. Having said that, it is also about the process, it can’t just be about the end goal, and for us we have to think about always putting the work in, but by doing it in a way that’s rewarding – that we’re satisfied with what we’re doing, you have to buy into the process to get the end goal.
What’s been your proudest moment?
Obviously winning the boat race last year was a proud moment that was a great culmination of a year’s work and seeing how wonderful that was for everyone felt great. On a day to day scale, seeing a younger team mate work something out or progress is also something that makes me feel proud.
With every sport there are different challenges, what’s the most challenging thing about being a rower?
It’s a repetitive sport, and that can be really hard at times because you are essentially doing a complicated motion that’s equivalent to a golf swing over and over again – that can wear on you, and it takes a certain mind set and a certain want for perfection to be able to do it.
Could you tell us about your gear and how it helps with the performance?
One of the unique things about the boat race is that it’s on the Tideway, and if you’ve read any Shakespeare or if you’ve seen anything about old England, the Thames and the Tideway are filthy. It’s different from any other rowing race or racing at the Olympics where you have perfect 2000 meter basins that are pristine, clean and filled with wonderful water. I’m surprised that we’re even allowed to go up there and row. But we take it seriously and we’re careful with the water and we don’t have docks here, so we’re really quite fortunate to have the Hunter Wellington Boots that we have as they enable us to just walk out there and get the boat out on to the water, while keeping the Tideway off of us. They make it so much easier for us to launch our boat - We’re lucky to have our Hunter Wellington Boots.
Which Blue are you?
I’m an Oxford Blue.